I am posting this question on behalf of a friend.
He is recently separated from the mother of his three year old daughter (never married). He was arrested on charges unrelated to his daughter or his fitness as a parent, served two months and is out on probation.
While he was in jail she obtained a restraining order against him,based on a single suicidal comment he made after she kicked him out of their home. There are no allegations of violence, physical or otherwise, or threats of violence. When he was released he signed a consent order from his ex-partner’s attorney, which allows him supervised visits of an hour each week and extends the restraining order for five years. At the time he was unable to afford an attorney (she disposed of all of his property during his incarceration and removed him from their joint bank account) and didn’t want to extend his absence from his daughter. He doesn’t want to communicate with his ex-partner except concerning their daughter, and felt the supervision would give him the chance to prove to her that he was still fit to be a parent.
He is now employed, renting a large home, and has attended each visit. He pays child support on time and supports his child additional through gifts at visits. His ex-partner has the right (in the consent order) to choose supervisors for the visits, and has so far refused to approve any of his suggestions, only allowing his mother to supervise, but she must drive three hours to each visit. He would like to extend visits with his daughter. He would like unsupervised time of a day each weekend and later full weekends with her.
Ideally, he wants mediation with his ex-partner so they can discuss their expectations for co-parenting, but she refuses due to the restraining order. My questions are:
When he files a motion to modify the consent custody agreement, can he also request that the restraining order be modified to allow for communication concerning their daughter?
Can the motion require mediation now or in the future to determine modifications to the custody arrangement?
Can he request right of first refusal, so that if the mother needs childcare outside of daycare she first contacts the father?
Can he request Skype or phone calls with his daughter?
And is this situation enough of a change in circumstances to modify the order? There is no language about his being “unfit” as a parent in the current consent agreement or in the restraining order, there are no allegations about abuse or neglect or anything negative. He has (and always had) an exemplary relationship with his daughter (his ex-partner frequently said to mutual friends that, despite his issues as a partner, he was a wonderful father), and wants to continue being in her life. It seems that it wouldn’t be possible to drop the restraining order without the mother’s consent, but it at present places a hardship on his ability to be active in his daughter’s life. The changes in circumstance are that he is now employed, renting his own home, and is in compliance with probation - and now able to provide a stable second home fir his daughter.
What are your thoughts? What does it take to prove that he is a fit parent, given the current orders?